Your Career

6 job search mistakes

6 job search mistakes you must stop making right now

If you’re struggling through a long and fruitless job search, you need to stop doing what you’re doing right now.

Chances are, your job-search strategy is the same as it was a month ago, three months ago, six months ago, yet here you are, beating a dead horse.

Consider this: what you’re doing isn’t working. Could it be you’re making one (or more) of these 6 mistakes?

1. Spraying your resume all over the internet

Recently a client visited my office to discuss job search strategy. Barely ten minutes in, I felt I’d been drawn into some weird game of whack-a-mole.

As we trolled job boards looking at postings (against my better judgement) she appeared to take some perverse pleasure in repeatedly blurting, “I applied for that one…and that one, and that one…” Finally, exasperated, she exclaimed “I sent out 200 resumes last week!””

Ding, ding, ding! Give the lady a cupie doll! In the game of job search, this player is hands-down the big winner in the resume-spraying category!

It is a sadly misguiding myth that if you send out enough resumes one is bound to eventually stick somewhere.

It doesn’t work that way. I’m not sure it ever has. So listen up.

The trick to winning the job search game is not waterboarding. The trick to winning the job search game is dripping.

Put away the super soaker and whip out your squirt gun. The idea is to drip out a few highly-customized resumes per day.

You’ll feel far more productive and optimistic in your job search when you’re dripping out just two or three customized resumes a day that you know have a decent shot at being read.

Customized means your resumes are both ATS-friendly and human-friendly. ATS-friendly means you used the job posting’s keywords and phrases to make it a good match for the role.

Human-friendly means you used descriptive language to provide useful and meaningful information for the human reader.

It is enormously more effective to customize and submit a couple of resumes each day than to waste time trolling job boards aimlessly, uploading countless generic resumes that probably won’t even make it into the ATS.

Less is more. When you stop spraying your resume all over the Internet and start dripping out a few customized resumes and cover letters a day, you’ll not only feel more productive in your job search, but you will be more productive. You will start to get some interview calls.

2. Sending out generic resumes

By whatever name… a basic resume, a standard resume, or a general resume, it is the one-and-only job-search document many rely on to compete against hundreds for any and all job opportunities they happen to stumble upon.

From cashier to production worker to sales associate, off goes the same generic resume.

Job competition is brutal. Your resume is competing with hundreds more now than it ever has, and trust me, at least ten of your competitors will send in very well-customized resumes that match the job requirements nicely.

Hell, if even only one of your competitors sends in a customized resume, that one customized resume beats out your generic resume every time.

Here’s the biggie:

Generic resumes seldom make it through the ATS.

Only the absolute best-matching resumes get pulled into the ATS, where eventually, a hiring decision-maker comes along to read them.

It’s very important to understand that as long as you’re uploading resumes through job boards’ APPLY buttons, it is the ATS, a robot, that decides whose resumes get seen by a human and whose don’t.

(If you’re not too sure what an ATS is and does, take a quick break here and go read this.)

Generic resumes please neither the ATS nor the human reader. On the rare occasion applicant’s resumes might go directly to a hiring manager via email, it takes that person an average six seconds to recognize a generic resume, and to toss it.

Remember. Competition. Many applicants are sending in customized resumes. No one needs to waste time looking at generic resumes.

3. Applying for jobs you’re not qualified for

Preparing the Q & A for a client, I asked if she had the Office Administration Diploma the job posting asked for. Her reply was: “Oh, no I don’t. I didn’t see that in the ad.”

This is the biggest mistake I see job-seekers making….Not Reading the Job Posting. Some don’t even get past the job title.

It’s like, Office Manager? Hell yeah, I can answer phones and type. And off goes the generic resume without so much as a glance at the posting’s requirements and qualifications.

I wish I knew why people don’t read job postings. It mystifies me. Why would anyone waste their time and effort sending in a resume for a job they don’t even know if they’re qualified to do?

Qualifications are the most important thing to an employer. Employers list qualifications in their job postings to tell applicants, “These are the must-haves to be considered for this position.“

Those must-haves get programmed into the ATS. The ATS searches resumes for those must-haves…the specific words and phrases the employer used in the job posting. When the ATS finds resumes containing the must-haves, it moves those resumes on to be read by a human.

Everything else gets vaporized.

If you’re not reading job postings thoroughly, or, if you are reading them and somehow convincing yourself you might have a shot even though you meet none (or few) of the qualifications, you’re your own worst enemy.

4. Limiting your job search to online postings

We’ve all heard about the “hidden job market”, which apparently accounts for 80% of the available jobs out there. I don’t know about you, but the prospect of learning all the ins and outs of discovering where these secret jobs are hiding makes me want to reach for the remote with one hand a six pack with the other.

Rather than seek the key to unlocking the mysterious hidden job market, let’s discuss an effective alternative to uploading resumes to job boards.

The official term is “networking”.

I can hear the groans, but hang on.

I’m not talking about formal, professional networking.

Instead, what about casual, and/or in-person networking? With friends, family, neighbors, your hair stylist, your mechanic, your kids’ teachers…essentially anyone you engage with face-to-face, no matter how infrequently.

You might be surprised how often opportunities come up to hear about a potential job opportunity.

You never know when you might strike up a conversation with someone who happens to know of positions soon opening up at his company, or his wife’s company, or his Dad’s company.

Maybe your neighbor’s vet happened to mention their clinic is looking to hire next month.

Or, your grocery cashier’s brother is looking to fill a few positions at his start-up in November.

Casual conversations can be as effective as formal networking toward getting a lead on a job or the name of a hiring manager or an influencer.

It is kind of tapping the hidden job market…learning about potential job opportunities before they’re advertised.

Here’s a hot tip: carry business cards and hand them out like candy. You can make 100 cards at VistaPrint or Zoom Printing for about 20 bucks.

Casual networking can be a surprisingly effective method to getting leads and, if you’re lucky, an occasional referral.

Referrals are fantastic to get! When you can name-drop in your cover letter, you’re miles ahead of the competition.

5. Ignoring LinkedIn

I barely know where to start when it comes to how incredibly useful LinkedIn can be in your job search.

If you’re in a serious job-search, I urge you to get acquainted with LinkedIn.

I’m linking this video: The Right Way to Network on LinkedIn by Cass Thompson, Career Advisor, because she’s fun and amazing and her videos are fantastic!

For those not planning to discover and use LinkedIn’s robust set of job-search and networking features, that’s okay.

You can send messages to connect with the right people at the company you want to work with. A quick message to the right person can go a long way to eventually get you in front of either a hiring decision-maker or a hiring influencer.

You need a LinkedIn profile to use any of LinkedIn’s features, no matter how basic, and it’s not a hard thing to do. There are hundreds of tutorials out there to help you quickly develop your LinkedIn profile. Oh look, here’s one now!

6. Failing to send a cover letter

When you’re competing with hundreds, what gets you into the top ten?
What makes you better than the next guy?

When 300 resumes all look the same, give or take, how do you make yours stand out? How do you convey your unique value proposition to the person reading your resume?

You write them a cover letter.
Your cover letter is your golden ticket…that extra little bit that tells the recruiter why you’re better than the rest.

Your cover letter gives you an exponentially greater chance of competing, and here’s an encouraging bit of news: about half of applicants don’t bother to send in a cover letter, even when the job posting asks for one.

Recruiters and hiring managers aren’t known for their empathy. Also, they are the busiest people on the planet. They look for reasons to reduce the number of resumes they’ll eventually have to read, and those unaccompanied by a requested cover letter may be the first to get axed.

So, right off the bat, half of your competition will almost certainly be eliminated simply by failing to follow instruction.

Sending in a cover letter strengthens your competitive position tremendously.

Here’s everything you need to know to write a compelling cover letter: How to Write a Cover Letter with 13 Examples You Can Use.

Job-searching is time-consuming. When you consider the time it takes to customize each and every resume and cover letter you send out, yeah, for sure, that takes time.

So does developing an impressive LinkedIn profile, and researching the companies you want to work at, and networking to get an “in”. But what’s the alternative?

Trolling online job boards and firing-off 5 or 10 generic resumes a day for jobs you’re not qualified for?

That’s not an alternative. It’s employment suicide.

Job searching can be discouraging, frustrating, and __________ …you fill in the blank. There’s no easy-to-follow formula.

But if you eliminate the tactics you know don’t work, and replace them with effective actions – proven effective actions – that do work, you will start to see progress and, ultimately, results.

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job-search coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born Enjoy!

Resume examples keep man unemployed

1 plain truth about resume examples that can hurt your job search

I know what you’re seeing when you scour the web looking for resume examples. I scour the web all the time looking at resume examples, mainly to verify that, yep, there’s still a ton of garbage out there.

What I’m discussing here is not resume samples. Resumes samples are what you’ll see when you Google “resume samples”. You’ll get thousands of them. Samples are the producer’s idea of what a resume should like.

Unless we do a deep dive into the producer’s professional background, we won’t know what makes him or her an expert on what a resume should like. (I can tell you this though…none of the people offering up these resume samples is a recruiter or a hiring manager!)

I contend that perhaps 1% of those offering resume samples online are resume-writing experts.

Resume examples show you what you’ll be paying for.

For job-seekers desperately needing help to write a decent resume, and landing on these web pages displaying resume samples, I say, steer clear!

Trust me, I research these web pages everyday. I want to see what’s out out there, on offer to the good folks searching for resume help, and as importantly, I want to be very careful not to disparage the few (very few) who do offer good resume samples.

But today we are not discussing resume samples. Today we are looking at resume examples. Resume examples are presented by companies who write “professional” resumes for job-seekers. (I still haven’t figured out what a “professional” resume is).

Anyway, we’ll call them Professional Resume Writers, since that is how most of these companies present themselves. Many give examples of their work on their websites. So this is what we’re looking at today – examples of “professional resume-writers” work.

Resume examples are meant to show you what you can expect to get when you hire that company to write your resume. (Or, at least that’s my take on it.) Apparently, they’re pretty confident you’ll be impressed – enough to pay their price.

But consider this: is it you who needs to be impressed, or is it the recruiter, hiring manager, or employer?

Lets take a look at an example of a company’s work and I’ll tell you why you need to steer clear of companies who do this kind of work.

Resume Example
Resume Example from a real company I chose not to name.

You don’t even have to read the resume example. Just look at it.

The format used here is the so-called modern resume format.

It is neither ATS-friendly nor human-reader friendly.

I recently did a big article on the modern resume format, which you can read here, so I won’t go into too much detail in this article. Suffice to say however, the designers of these optically-interesting resumes have no idea how to write for either ATS or human readers.

The modern resume format was designed by someone (no one seems to know who) with an artistic flair. Rest assured, it was not a resume-writing expert and nor was it a recruiter.

Recruiters hate the modern resume format. Here are two articles by true industry experts to substantiate my claim: The Template Trend You Should Avoid by Jobscan, and Creative Resumes Might Be Keeping You Out of Work by Lisa McGrimmon, Career Strategist.

But trust me when I say, I know recruiters hate the modern resume format because I correspond with recruiters all the time.

I wouldn’t be doing my job efficiently if I didn’t reach out to recruiters to find out what’s working and what’s not working in resume-writing.

The modern resume format is not working.

So how are resume-writing companies selling these modern-style resumes to unsuspecting and trusting job-seekers?

I’ll tell you how. They do it by impressing the client (you) who, after all, is the one with the money. If the clients’ potential employer was paying for the resume-writing service, I dare say the resume would be written to impress him, and trust me, the modern resume format would not be the way to do that.

Resumes are not meant to be an art project.

What I’m saying is, job-seekers are impressed by these pimped-out modern resumes because they themselves don’t know what a truly expertly-written resume looks like.

When a job-seeker sees their new modern resume, developed by whomever they hired to “design” it, they’re like, “Wow! This looks amazing!”

And if resumes were meant to be an art project, I suppose the modern resume would win some kind of ribbon. But trust me, your resume is not meant to be an art project.

You’re a job-seeker. You are not a resume-writer. If you were, you wouldn’t be considering hiring a “professional” resume-writing service.

Perhaps you haven’t written a resume in 10 or 15 years and have no idea what a resume should look like. Perhaps you have less idea what actually goes into writing a truly impressive resume.

So, you go online to get some ideas to DIY your new resume, or perhaps, you start searching around for a resume-writing service.

resume examples

Either way, you stumble upon a lot of resume samples and examples, most of which are depictions of the modern resume format that you think looks amazing, but that ATSs and recruiters absolutely hate.

You don’t know ATSs and recruiters hate the modern resume format, so you think to yourself, “Well, that’s what my resume should look like.”

Then you think, “But, sh#* man – I don’t know how to make my resume look like that with all those icons, and bubbles, and columns, and colors, and a nice big border.” So now what?

The reason the modern resume is being heralded the resume format to use in 2020 is really quite underhanded. It’s a scam, designed to compel you to hire a “professional” resume-writer who can make your resume look the way they tell you it should look.

The sophistication of design is intimidating to those not word-processor savvy. Few people know how to get all of those design elements into a word document. You have to know your word processor inside-and-out to find and use all of the various design functions that make these modern resumes look the way they do.

That intimidation is what the producers of the modern resume bank on. They’re hoping your overwhelm will force you to hire their resume-writing service to make your resume look the way they’ve convinced you it’s supposed to look in 2020.

It’s B.S.

Your resume is not an art project. Not in 2020 and not ever.

Why not use a simple, user-friendly resume template that ATS and recruiters love?

Your resume is a plain and simple document that contains information – nothing more and nothing less. Recruiters and hiring managers are not impressed by graphics, icons, colored bubbles, or any other over-the-top design features.

And ATSs? ATSs can’t even “read” these all-over-the-map art projects with their bells ‘n whistles getting in the way of the information the ATS needs to find.

If you haven’t read my piece on modern resumes yet, do it now. I don’t want you to waste your time and effort trying to design a modern resume, only to end up frustrated and disappointed after spending hours or even days on it and sending out 40 of them with nary a single call for an interview.

Here’s your take-away. Steer clear of the modern resume format and use my proven-to-get-results Resume Format Template. This thing is clean and simple.

This is the resume format I use on every resume I write, and trust me, my clients are going to job interviews. Recruiters love this resume format because it’s clean, giving them the information they’re looking for in an easy and quick read.

Even the most inexperienced typer in the world will end up with a near-perfect resume using this resume template. You can use it in Google Drive, Google Docs, MS Word, Libre Writer – any word processor you’re comfortable with.

Use my Resume Format Template. You won’t go wrong. Maybe grab your FREE copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! to get step-by-step guidance on how to use the template!

One last word. My expert resume-writing advice does not necessarily apply to those seeking career opportunities in creative fields, including web development and design, the graphic arts, visual ad copy, social media marketing, etc. You guys can definitely get creative with your resumes!

how to write a killer resume

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terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born Enjoy!

Woman wearing face mask waiting for job interview

How to Get a Job During the Corona Pandemic

If you’re unemployed and need to get back to work, you’re probably feeling a sense of urgency. Getting a job during the corona pandemic isn’t really harder than it was before the outbreak, but it’s a different process getting there.

Here are a few things you can do to maximize your job-search efforts, and, maybe even get an interview!

Getting a job is a job in itself

Make job-searching your unpaid full-time job. Take it seriously. Get up early, shower, dress, and head to your job. Right now, your job is looking for a job. That means being on your computer or phone several hours a day.

Claim a space in your home and dedicate it to your uninterrupted job search. Take job-searching seriously and treat it like a job. You might be surprised how quickly you can get yourself back into a paying job.

No man is an island

Talk to people. I won’t use the N word (networking) because I personally don’t like getting out there and talking to a bunch of people about my professional self. But it’s something you need to do to tap into the hidden job market. I know, I know – very cliche, but very true.

The hidden job market is alive and well. Get on your phone and talk to people – the right people. This can be friends, family, old coworkers, old bosses….make a couple of calls everyday. Above all, talk to reputable recruiters. Get a few professional recruiters who know what they’re doing in your pipeline.

Squirm but adapt

Push yourself out of your professional comfort zone. So you’re an airplane mechanic – great, but maybe you’ll have to sit on your phone doing customer service for Telus or someone. It’ll be only temporary, so don’t sweat it. You’ll know how far out of your comfort zone you’ll have to go once you identify the growth industries who are hiring.

Check out this list of who’s hiring.

This is one of the things you do in a serious job-search – find out where the jobs are. If it’s an industry you’ve never worked in before, go look at my article, 3 Tips for Landing a Job Interview (in an industry you’ve never worked in).

There are a few ways to get yourself into a job during the corona pandemic.

There’s always the “in the right place at the right time” good fortune, but these days, job opportunities aren’t really falling from the sky.

It’s going to take a combination of networking, which is really just talking to people, and a G.D. amazing resume that’s going to make the employer or recruiter say, “Why the hell isn’t this guy working here already!”

Do 1, 2, 3, above and grab your free copy of:


You’ll be back to work in no time.

how to write a killer resume

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:

  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!

Subscribe to get once-a-month expert advice and job-search tips delivered right to your inbox!

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born Enjoy!

jobs are opening up

Now that jobs are opening up, how will you get one of them?

Let’s start with some good news! Yes! Jobs are opening up…

“We expect the worst of the job losses are behind us and the labour market will slowly recover as restrictions are eased. Looking ahead, employment levels should pick up slowly as provinces are easing restrictions on economic activity, which should bring people back to work in May.” says Cory Renner, Senior economist (The Conference Board of Canada)

So, who’s hiring?  Human resources director, Jessica Hodgson says….“The tech sector for sure is well positioned to handle this [Coronavirus pandemic]. There are also industries where they’re looking for more people. Anybody that’s involved in shipping, logistics, supply chain manufacturing, those people [companies] are still operating and still expect to be operational.”

And, “…there are postings for obvious jobs at grocery stores, pharmacies, seniors’ homes, and for health services, but employers are also looking for cooks, trucker drivers, mechanics, cleaners, and sales people in electronics, building and garden supplies. [MORE HERE]

LinkedIn recently published this article, saying, essentially…as of May 15th, 2020, there are at least 340,000 jobs available across Canada in a variety of industries.

So, now that jobs are opening up, how will you get out there and get one of them?

With your resume?

You betcha with your resume! Covid-19 may have changed the way we work, but it hasn’t changed the way we get work. Whether you’re going after work-from-home-jobs or get-in-your-car-and-drive-there-jobs, you’ll need to submit a resume to get into an interview. And I’m going to make darn sure your resume gets you into the interviews you want for the jobs you’ll be going after!

I’m going to teach you to write your resume exactly the same way I’ve written hundreds of resumes that have put people in the job interviews they wanted to be in. People like these:

Are you confident to present your resume to future employers?

Jobs are opening up, but…

…you’ll need an excellent resume to compete with hundreds of job-seekers. In some industries, you could be competing with as many as a thousand for a single job posting!

There’s a right way and a wrong way to write a competitive resume. That’s a fact.

If you’re sending out resumes and getting calls for interviews, then you’re doing it the right way–kudos! But, if that’s not what’s going on for you, you might need a little help to write your resume the right way.

And, hey. Listen. It’s not your fault. No one ever taught you how to write a resume the right way. Not your parents. Not your teachers. Not even your career counselor. Since the beginning of time, resume-writing has never been considered an essential high school or college subject. Personally, I think that’s because so few people (even teachers, professors, and career counselors) know how to write a proper resume.

Back in the dinosaur days when I was going to high school, we didn’t even have books in our school library on resume-writing. I had to borrow one from the Public Library. It was 202 pages long. I remember thinking, “This must be the definitive book on resume-writing. Cool, I’m going to learn everything I need to know to write a kick-ass resume.” (We said “kick-ass” back in the day)

That 202-paged book was a big disappointment. All theory–no action. But, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. Going through those 202 pages taught me something….

It doesn’t take 202 pages to learn (or teach) how to write a killer resume. Years later, I set out to prove it. I did it in 30 pages. And I did it because I want everyone to know how to write a killer resume!

Okay. Let’s get where we’re going….

…to your free workbook: HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

If you don’t need this free workbook because you’re writing and sending out awesome resumes that are getting you invited to the job interviews you want, cool! But, if that’s not exactly your experience, you should grab your free copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!

This workbook is straightforward, concise, and easy to follow. It’s 60 pages cover-to-cover, but only half are “working pages”. You’ll learn (and do!) 5 distinct steps that are designed to help you write your killer resume by the time you reach the book’s end. It’s full of resume examples showing you step-by-step how to:

  • get your resume through the ATS scan and in front of the hiring decision-makers
  • format your resume cleanly and include only what employers and recruiters want to see (with the Free Resume Format Template ATSs and recruiters love!)
  • write your work experience the way employers and recruiters want to see it
  • get access to the absolute must-have basic resume-writing resources
  • discover the universal Do’s & Dont’s of resume-writing
  • get a fully-completed resume and cover letter sample to use as a guide to writing your own killer resume!

It doesn’t take any special skill or talent to write a killer resume.

In fact, it takes no more than what you already have in your head! With a little guidance from HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME!, you’ll learn how to get what’s already in your head down on paper….the right way.

You’ll learn the right way to write for the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that about 86% of companies use to screen resumes, and, you’ll learn how to write for the human reader as well. (Because, after all, it’s the human reader who decides who to call in for an interview!)

Grab your free copy of HOW TO WRITE A KILLER RESUME! now! You have nothing to lose but job opportunities

how to write a killer resume

Get Free e-Books
& Expert Advice on:

  • Resume-Writing
  • Cover Letters
  • Job Search & More!

Subscribe to get once-a-month expert advice and job-search tips delivered right to your inbox!

terri at resumepro

Terri is an expert resume-writer and a pretty good job coach. During her 30 years in the conventional work force, Terri was fired from 11 jobs, got laid off from 2 jobs, quit 3 jobs, sued 1 employer (successfully), made another cry, and wrote over 100 resumes for herself alone! Since embracing the good old “take this job and shove it” attitude, Terri decided to put all of her shitty “workin’ for the man” experiences and life-lessons to good use, and thus was born Enjoy!